Another topic that came up during my conversations with Sherab is pouring water into the pot. Think it doesn’t matter?
Well… the story he told me is like this
A certain famous tea master, who shall remain nameless, was brewing tea for a few people somewhere in China. Sherab has a friend who went. Two teas were made. The first was a wet stored cooked puerh, and it tasted like crap. The tea supposedly gave off the “locking the throat” feeling, where one feels as though the throat is closing up and is often attributed by mainland Chinese as a sign of wet storage — a bad side effect, so to speak. The second tea, which, while not specified (to me) I assume is also of a similar genre, had no such effect. Second tea is better, no?
Well… not quite. Apparently, when the master made the first tea, he poured water from up high and in a rather violent fashion, so the water hit the pot hard. The second tea he didn’t do that. Afterwards, as Sherab’s friend knows said master, he went and asked. Master said, “when you do that (high and fast pouring) with wet stored cooked puerh, you will always produce the “locked throat” effect”. Pray, tell, why would a venerable tea master do such a thing so that a tea will come out tasting worse? Well, I’m sure you all, my intelligent readers, must know the answer, and it involves profit, if you need a hint.
The fact that most tea masters out there have a profit motive is not something you need me to tell you. However, the significant part of this story is the pouring – how do you pour water into the pot affects the way the tea tastes. I remember, very early on in my own tea career, I was told that when making oolongs, one should pour from high up, in a small stream, gently, and slowly. Puerh, on the other hand, should be treated with a stronger stream, but NOT high up — pour low. When pouring from pot/fairness cup into the cups, ALWAYS pour low — don’t splash around like some bad youtube videos do.
Over time, I must say I’ve gotten sloppy with my water pouring technique. It’s easy to get lazy, but I decided to try that out again today. I pulled out my aged baozhong, a tea I know pretty well, and one of my pots, and made sure that whenever I made that tea, I poured in a small stream from up high. The result? My tea seems to be a little less sour, and a little smoother. I’m going to try tomorrow, with the exact same wares, but with a different water pouring style. Let’s see what happens, and of course, I’ll report back.